Mayor to hang up chain
Matamata Piako Mayor Hugh Vercoe is to step down from the role at the October elections.
But he is not yet ready to retire from local government politics.
Instead, Mr Vercoe will seek election to one of two seats on the Waikato Regional Council ( WRC) in the ward representing part of Hauraki, all of Matamata Piako and the South Waikato districts.
Announcing his decision on Monday, Mr Vercoe said: ‘‘I have enjoyed 15 wonderful years as mayor of an incredibly forwardthinking and progressive district and I am grateful for the support shown to me.
‘‘Working for the residents and ratepayers of Matamata Piako has been very rewarding and a pleasure.,’’ Mr Vercoe said.
‘‘But after five terms I felt the time was right to stand aside and to allow voters the opportunity to select a new leader of council.
‘‘One of those challenges a new mayor and council will face is the Government reform of local government.
‘‘ Protecting the interests of Matamata and Piako residents will be a priority.’’
Mr Vercoe said it had taken some time for him to decide not to seek a further term at the helm, particularly when the role had provided so much personal satisfaction.
‘‘Over the 15 years, along with my fellow councillors, I think I have achieved what I set out to do in the district.
‘‘Yes, I could have stood for reelection but moving on now feels right.
‘‘I have no regrets, only a sense of achievement in doing what has been in the best interests of the communities I serve.
‘‘By making my decision public at this early stage, this will enable those interested in becoming mayor to consider their options and to start their campaigns for office.
‘‘It also provides adequate time for voters to consider who should take the leadership role at council.’’
Mr Vercoe is looking forward to being on the campaign trail again and says he has the time to devote to WRC if elected.
If he is successful, this will allow him to continue his work with regional civil defence as well as having some input into the future changes within local government.
Though Mr Vercoe retains his dairy and beef farming interests and financial services company, his role in these is now at a director level.
He believes his experience as a long- term mayor has equipped him with the skills to make a strong contribution on the WRC.
‘‘ I bring with me a lifetime involvement in farming and understanding of rural communities and that will be an asset to WRC.’’
Mr Vercoe acknowledges he will have to work hard to build a profile in the South Waikato district where he is not well known.
Aside from politics, Mr Vercoe has enjoyed a long history with the New Zealand Defence Force as a major in the Territorial Army.
He has received the Queen’s Service Medal for services to the community.
Photo: NICOLA STEWART